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149 more F-15s cleared for takeoff

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By Bruce Rolfsen - brolfsen@militarytimes.com

Posted : Tuesday Feb 19, 2008 15:04:52 EST


All but a handful of the Air Force’s F-15 Eagles can return to flight, Air

Combat Command has decided.

The 149 Eagles grounded because key structural parts didn’t meet the

original design specifications can fly again once each jet has passed an

additional set of inspections, an ACC spokesman said. With the inspections

taking six to eight hours for each jet, most of the F-15s should be back in

the air in two to three weeks.

The decision to allow the 149 jets to begin operating again will give the

service 429 flying A through D-model Eagles. Nine F-15s will remain grounded

because inspections turned up cracks in the metal beams reinforce the jet’s


Air Combat Command boss Gen. John Corley reached the return to flight

decision on Feb. 15 after his Air Force Materiel Command counterpart, Gen.

Bruce Carlson approved a new inspection regime for the jets. While ACC

operates most of the Air Force’s F-15s, AFMC has overall responsibility for

the jets’ long-term health and sustainment.

The F-15s were first grounded on Nov. 3, the day after a Missouri Air

National Guard F-15C broke apart in flight while in a nearly 8-G turn. The

pilot survived ejecting from the tumbling cockpit.

A two-month-long investigation determined that the F-15C broke apart because

one of the support beams, called a longeron, had cracked apart because the

beam was too thin to handle high-stress of combat maneuvering. A fleet-wide

check of other F-15s discovered that nine had similar cracks and another 149

had thin or rough surfaced longerons but no cracks.

At first, F-15E Strike Eagles were also grounded but once they passed

inspections in November, the bomber version of the F-15 was put back in the


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